The Product of Experience: DJ Fett Burger Talks
There is no doubting the influence of your surroundings and environment in the development of self. The area you grew up in, the games you played, the friends you hung out with all contributed to your worldview and mode of being. Skillsets are learned and passions formed through activities and practice – very rarely are you born with an installed fervour for 70s italo-disco, or the ability to scratch like Grandmaster Flash. Childhood is a period of exploration and education supplemented by the people and places that make up your community.
According to the Norwegian Tourist Board, the coastal town of Moss possesses “a rich industrial heritage, a flourishing art scene, and the most beaches in the whole of Østfold county.” To the uninformed, such a description instigates assumptions of tranquillity and activity in equal measures. Whilst the paper mills and metalworks bustle with cranking machines and vigorous labourers, the coastal waves swirl placidly onto the town’s shores. In the opinion of Sex Tags co-founder Peter Mitterer, better known as DJ Fett Burger, this balance is askew: there’s far more tranquillity than activity.
Growing up within such a dystopian setting, the Norwegian producer, performer and artist needed to create and express. Alongside his brother DJ Sotofett, Mitterer found entertainment through the cultural mediums of art and music. These childhood and adolescent explorations and modes of expression have no doubt influenced the Norwegian producer and DJ’s current approach to making music, the Sex Tags style and more generally, his worldview and philosophy. We spoke to Fett Burger following an appearance on a new Wonder Stories EP in which he remixes the work of Dj Rocca.
Whereabouts in Norway are you from? What is there to do there, and how did you spend your time as a kid?
I grew up in Moss, Norway. It’s a small city one hour from the capital, Oslo.
As I kid I did so many things, like all other kids. But later the interest in music and so on came, through friends, drawing, graffiti and hip hop. Here is a feature of Sex Tags Mania, made in 2010. And here the readers can get familiar with a lot my early influences and situation in Moss.
Info is here.
How big an influence did the station NPK P3 have on your taste in music, and has this taste continued since those younger days?
Again this is also something I have talked extensively about in an interview I did with Finn Johannsen a few years ago. Here I go pretty in detail on my NRK P3 radio influences.
Info is here.
Only one show I forgot to mention, and that I can do here.
It was a program called Howig’s Hangar. It was aired on Thursdays, then maybe Mondays, can’t remember the days. It was a blues and R&B show. Really good, like all the other niche programs I mentioned in the previous interview. Howig the host was a truck driver, and he had a very rusty voice, and was the man when it came to knowledge about blues and R&B. It was a very soulful program.
He expanded my musical horizon back in these days. Blues and R&B wasn’t particularly something I was so into at the time, but now, when I think back on it, it was maybe one of the the best shows. The radio host had such an amazing presence. And that had an impact. Also the name Howig’s Hangar is pretty darn good! An underdog radio legend I would say.
What prompted your interest in music? You’ve said NPK P3, but did your parents’ records or friends of yours get you listening to particular songs and artists?
Friends, early hip hop, graffiti, MTV and the radio shows on NRK P3 where important influences.
There was no real alternative music scene in Moss, so I had to figure things out by myself together with my brother Sotofett and create a fantasy world about cool stuff. Later I got to know more alternative people but it was mostly rock related people or freaks. It was great! Some of them where into electronic music, but without a scene. Like a good friend, Don Papa for example, amazing artist and entertainer. At the time he made a lot of leftfield house and sometimes ambient related things, but he called it hip hop, always hip hop no matter what it was. Fantastic!
So you just had to create your own thing. Before internet, when slow information was still the thing, it was very exciting, and things moved really slow. Then again, you ended up being so into your thing, and the little scene you had. Because of these limitations it created a world of hopes, a pretty original approach to ideas, and how to get things done. Since most people really didn’t care, you had to imagine that you had an audience, and appreciated the friends that showed up and supported.
Just like one time, when Don Papa had a release party for one of his new hip hop albums at the time, as one of his aliases: a Swedish rapper called MC Otekka.
It was a live show, in the “hippest” rock bar/club in Moss at the time, and he did this massive show with rapping, dancing and put so much energy and craziness into it. He had an audience of three people, and the rest of the rockers in that bar hated it, thought he was totally crazy. They just wanted to put on the newest White Stripes record or something like that. But that show was so good! Amazing. The art of being big in your own mind has definitely been lost these days, now DJing has become so professionalized and internet hype is the main thing. So it’s difficult to maintain obliviousness. Kind of a shame sometimes. Especially when we talk about entertainers who are willing to go the extra mile to give you a show no matter what.
What’s the music scene like in Norway? What sort of music is popular and who are the big Norwegian names?
This is a question I get all the time, and it’s so boring, and don’t wanna talk too much about it really because it’s a lot of the same people as always as far as I’m aware of, at least in the scene I’m part of. I’m not tuned into what happens in Norway these days, with new stuff really, since I’m abroad all the time. So can just say that friends and people I know are active. DJ Sotofett, Bjørn Torske, Skatebård, Telephones, Prins Thomas, Todd Terje etc, they are all great! And doing well!
You have some really cool very underground experimental techno things like Club NoNo and Oblivion Dipp, they are great. Lot of good spirit, and go a bit out in the non conformist side of things. Moss man Don Papa and some other friends, Kambo Supersound and Orgon crew are doing their thing. Orgon crew never release things, just make really nice studio jams and throw Fan Club parties in Moss. Filter records too, keeping the spirit up! Selling underground records and is just a good spirit in Oslo! Øyvind Morken keeping his Wednesday residency at Jæger.
Also a guy called EOD is doing good stuff. More UK Rephlex kind of sounds. I don’t know him, but know his music. He is talented.
But most popular – that’s a different ball game.
Kygo is the most popular in Norway. He makes something called tropical house, it is soft EDM. He is the Avicii of Norway. He is possible the biggest thing since Aha. He is like a slick football player who makes music. It’s all commercial, very clean and professional looking. He can play piano, so he uses a lot of chord progression in his music and makes music with people like Selena Gomez and Coldplay. He remixed Marvin Gaye – “Sexual Healing”. (I prefer the original). It’s all very flat, and has not much depth in terms of sound or attitude. It’s just very mainstream and functional as a business. He does not have the same level of musical talent as Avicii, and also lacks the darkness and intensity Avicii had. So it’s a very straight Avicii, without drugs, depression and insanity.
So Kygo becomes very slick, functional and professional, and it’s a perfect artist for selling commercial products and use in ads. For some reason that seems to be the thing a lot of young people like. No friction, no attitude or any confrontational mindset towards the status quo. Punk is definitely dead in Norway. Then again, it’s amazing that the opportunity is there for people to make it this big, and I’m glad on behalf of Kygo that he has achieved all this success, because it’s actually pretty amazing to reach that far. Even if it’s not my cup of tea.
But under the radar I’m sure there are a lot of things going on, or at least a decent amount. Has to be a lot of young kids who are into new cool stuff, that I don’t register any more. So I still believe that there will be some new interesting stuff coming. Always a few out there who want something else. Keep it a bit interesting.
My all time favourite living artist in Norway is Bjarne Melgaard. He is a visual artist, he is the king! Just does whatever he wants and has an insane production and energy. He doesn’t care what other people say, just goes for it! So that’s very inspiring!
What are the obvious similarities and differences between you and your brother musically speaking? Do you like the same stuff, produce in the same way, or do things differently?
I’m not gonna answer that.
But I can say that I think DJ Sotofett is exceptionally talented producer, especially in terms of variation in his output. He has so many different approaches to production, and also a constant willingness to explore and experiment with different sounds and genres. His productivity is insane. Maybe 5% of all the music has made is released. He has tons of albums, singles, remixes that probably never will come out.
He has a lot of different styles and seems to be able to figure out all these different production methods that we know from previous producers. It’s very interesting and also impressive, seems like he is a sponge who sucks in new information about production, and learns it and does it. He does everything, from producing, mixing and also final mastering. It’s a crafty to be able to do all that.
Even if I’m his brother, I actually honestly think he might be one of the most interesting producers of his generation in our music scene. Many will think it’s weird thing to say, but I also have seen and heard a lot of the things he does. He might not be a hit maker, or usually makes very accessible music. But he has a unique combination of variation, pushing boundaries, exploring and learning production crafts and the amount he produces. Very few producers out there are able to match this. I’m very proud of him!
Me, I’m different!
While Sotofett mainly has been focusing on making records, producing, DJing and distribution of records, I have also been publishing magazines (BLAD and Splash), organising exhibitions, making drawings, and also doing a lot of graphic work. And of course also making records and producing, distribution, and stepping up the whole DJ thing. But that’s why it may seem I have done less, but actually done tons, but a bit aside from the records and music thing. Less is more approach!
We also want different things in life, but we are different persons, so that’s obvious, and it’s good!
I wanna produce an underground album for Rihanna, think that might happen some day!
But both of us are always highly creative and productive, but in different fields and ways. Neither of us care about trends or common agendas in the music or art field. We just do what we do, and always done that, since the very beginning. That’s the best!
Where does the name Fett Burger come from?
I get this question all the time as well, so here we go.
I made some DJ mixes with one of my ex-girlfriends Annie (Greatest Hit, Heartbeat and Telle records) and I needed a name. So I made a joke, I’m DJ Fett Burger and we lost our shit! Then the name was put on a poster, for one of our summer parties, and I got stuck with the name. It’s actually a really good name, very catchy, and stupid, it works perfect for me.
So a joke that became a real thing.
How would you describe your music to people that don’t know?
I don’t want to do that. if people are interested they can ask to listen to my music, buy my records, or they can find it on Youtube.
What do you think is wrong with mp3s and digital music?
Too much to be said about digital music, so many different things. So won’t say much about that.
But not much is wrong with digital music. It’s just a question how you handle it, and what aesthetic you choose to have around your digital approach. It can be really good, and also really bad.
Bad compressed mp3s sound shit. So if a digital format is being used, then just make sure the sound production is done well. A good mastering helps and use high resolution. Then it is nothing wrong with digital music.
But I like records better, it’s cooler. There is a more community mindset around records, outside of a computer. Like going to record stores, make artwork for a sleeve, meet people real to real. It’s more fun.
As for a DJ these days, vinyl is kind of obsolete, if you think of it as a tool to play music, and especially for traveling, for most traveling DJs. To play a good party, doesn’t really matter if you use USB or vinyl. I still think its way cooler to play records. Has more flavour, and feels better. DJs who play with CDJ’s often tend to be more flat I think, even if they play different music. Especially if everything is synched in record box, and ready to go. But it’s also fantastic, so many opportunities with new technology. And it is so flexible and easy to bring everywhere, and you can bring so much music, that’s great!
I just prefer playing vinyl. Looks better, and has a cooler performative element to it. Even if the mixing can be a bit more shaky sometimes. I like the limitations with vinyl, makes you creative as well. So in that way it’s not obsolete. But traveling with records, that sucks these days.
What are the best and worst parts about being a DJ, making music and running a label?
Freedom to do what I want is the best part.
Worst part is when freedom is taken away from me.